The contrast between this area and the road we followed today to reach it is extreme. Once we were out of the San Diego metropolitan region and into the countryside, we were in desert-like terrain, with dry, rocky soil and low, scrub bushes, punctuated from time to time by a tree or two.
We also changed from mild seaside hills to tall mountains, separated from one another by deep valleys. Our route took us northward at first on the Interstate 15, with its multiple lanes and heavy traffic. We then turned southeast to less-traveled, two-lane highways – Highway 79, then eastward on Highway 371, and then to Highway 74 and, lastly, Highway 111. All of these provided a good look at the California countryside in a much less stressful environment than the interstates.
On a map, the route looks like an easy flat line. Not so in reality! We got up to more than 4000 feet in altitude, and just before we reached our destination, we could see, from the mountain top, the dry, rocky peaks, a dark serpentine ribbon of highway with one switchback after another, and way down below, the green carpet of city. It was quite a vista!
Once we had descended to the valley floor and entered the city streets, we passed stately palm trees in regimented rows on either side of wide avenues, a profusion of flowering shrubs, startlingly green carpets of lush, close-cropped grass on golf courses on either side of the road, and one well-groomed, gated community after another, each landscaped with desert plants, rocks and shrubs.
The other thing we noticed today was that it was hot! As we set up the RV on our site, we actually broke out in a sweat for the first time this trip! I think the thermometer inside said 91 degrees before we opened the windows and door. I dug out my sandals from deep storage and put them on my gratefully bare feet, again for the first time this trip.
The crowning event of the day was to head to Thousand Palms for dinner with our friends Ken and Linda, whom we had not seen for seven years. They live in BC, but winter down here, and it was great to sit in their back yard and watch the sky turn pink while a silvery-white moon rose from the horizon and a cool breeze wafted in. It was also great to get caught up on what has transpired over those years, and to determine that neither Ken nor Linda has changed a bit. A good time was had by all.